At the NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels on 12–13 June 2003, new command arrangements for the Alliance were agreed.The new NATO Command Structure will be leaner, more flexible, more efficient, and better able to conduct future military operations. At the strategic level, there will be one command with operational responsibilities, Allied Command Operations, and a new functional command, Allied Command Transformation, to take responsibility for promoting and overseeing the continuing transformation of Alliance forces and capabilities. Below the strategic level, the structure will be significantly streamlined, with a reduction in the number of headquarters, from over 20 to 14. A number of countries within the Alliance will be affected by the change.For the United Kingdom, the number of NATO headquarters will reduce. We will retain the major maritime Headquarters at Northwood, HQ Navnorth which will subsume the task of RHQ Eastlant (also currently in Northwood). The NATO element of Combined Air Operations Centre 9 (CAOC) at RAF High Wycombe will close.RHQ Eastlant in Northwood has 230 Service personnel of which 106 are UK nationals. There are 24 civilian personnel Decisions on any transitional arrangements, including what tasks might be subsumed into HQ Navnorth and the timing of any changes, are still under consideration.The NATO CAOC at RAF High Wycombe is manned by some 94 Service personnel of which 46 are UK nationals. There are no civilians. Decisions on the transitional arrangements and the timing have not yet been taken. It is anticipated that the multinational element of the CAOC would return to their home countries. The total number of personnel at High Wycombe is over 2100.These changes will help to achieve a more streamlined overall NATO Command Structure, thereby enabling the Alliance to operate more efficiently and effectively, and taken together with the work on the NATO Response Force, should provide the Alliance with a real improvement in future capability.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence
(Mr. Adam Ingram)